The White House’s top lawyer is reportedly warning staffers not to contact Donald Trump over fears that they could join him in being charged with treason, a report claims.
Vanity Fair reported that there was panic among staffers after violence broke out at the U.S. Capitol as angry supporters of the president stormed the building, forcing members of Congress to go into hiding. Some of them feared that they could be implicated in a coup to overthrow the government, and were advised to steer clear of Trump.
“The West Wing staffer told the friend that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was urging White House officials not to speak to Trump or enable his coup attempt in any way, so they could reduce the chance they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act,” the outlet noted.
The report added that several top members did resign on Wednesday, including Stephanie Grisham, the former communications director who moved into a role as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff.
Others have laid blame directly on Trump for leading the rioters to the Capitol. He spoke at a rally that took place on Wednesday, coinciding with Congress tallying the Electoral College votes that was set to seal his loss to Joe Biden. As the New York Times reported, he reportedly spoke with Vice President Mike Pence before he traveled to the event, with Pence reiterating his stance that he did not have power to change the results of the vote, as Trump had called on him to do. The report claimed that he was somber as he traveled to speak at the rally, and during the 70-minute remarks he expressed his sharp anger with the vice president.
In the remarks, Trump directly called for supporters to march to the Capitol.
Afterward, politicians on both sides of the aisle claimed that it was Trump’s incitement that led to the violence.
“There’s no question the president formed the mob,” Republican Rep. Liz Cheney told Fox News, via the New York Times. “The president incited the mob. The president addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”
There are others who have discussed removing Trump from power immediately. Several members of Congress said they support impeachment, and others have discussed pressing Pence into invoking the 25th Amendment to take remove him from power on the grounds that he is no longer competent to hold office, ABC News reported.